The interdisciplinary CCIB graduate programs have been remarkably successful in training students for modern research positions in academia, industry, and government. Our first students enrolled in 2010, and our 20th PhD will be granted in 2020.  Our graduates are in postdocs and tenure-track faculty positions in the U.S. and Europe, researcher positions in companies like Genentech, Evotech, and LG Chem, and federal agencies like the FDA, DOD, and USDA.  

Students enter the PhD program with Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, or a related field.  Motivated students from the social sciences are usually admitted into the Master’s program and can transfer to the PhD if they are successful in the MS.  About 2/3 of our students are from the United States, while the other 1/3 are international.  

Below are some of the other questions asked most frequently by applicants and prospective students. This page is a work in progress, and if your question isn’t answered here, please contact the graduate director at   

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Apply now at  Our program code is 56121.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I actually apply?

If you have already applied to another Rutgers program and were invited to extend your existing application to our program, please follow the instructions in the link that was sent to you.  If you follow the instructions below, you will end up creating a new application.  

To create a new application, please go to  Our program code is 56121.

The deadlines listed on the graduate school webpage or in the application may seem inconsistent, especially for PhD students.  Please see “What is the deadline for application and timeline for admission?” below for a better explanation. 

To apply, you will need to submit

  • Three letters of recommendation,
  • official transcripts,
  • PhD: GRE General Test (a GRE Subject test is recommended, but not required); 
  • MS: the GRE General Test is recommended and will help you get a scholarship from the graduate school, but it is not required
  • TOEFL/IELTS for most international students (the application portal will advise)
  • The names of three faculty members you might be interested in working with
  • a personal statement

    The purpose of the personal statement is to give the admissions committee an overview of who you are beyond the transcript and GRE scores. Why is the CIB program is a good fit for you? What are your short and long-term goals and how does obtaining an MS or PhD degree fit with your goals? Please be specific about the direction(s) you would like to explore during your studies.
I have questions about my application. Who do I contact?
Please contact the admissions office for: 

  • Anything concerning the logistics of submitting your application (what is the program code? why can’t my letter writer submit their letter? why does the portal say my application is incomplete?) They will be able to provide you with the most up-to-date information on how to get your application to us.
  • Questions regarding the TOEFL. Our program has no role in determining TOEFL requirements. You can also contact the international students office.

Please contact the international students office for:

  • Questions related to obtaining a visa
  • Questions about whether your non U.S. bachelor’s degree would allow you to be admitted into our MS and/or PhD.  

Please contact the graduate school for:

  • Questions about scholarships and other funding listed on the graduate school page.

Please contact us for:

  • Clarification on the required content of specific application components (e.g. Can I use a non-academic letter writer?) Please keep in mind that the offices above have the job of handling your application, while the CCIB grad program director is a faculty member who also has their own research group, teaches, and administers the current students. That said, we are happy to answer any questions that can’t be answered by someone else! 
What is the PhD application deadline and timeline for review?

With very few exceptions, PhD students are only admitted in the Spring semester for the following Fall. There are two rounds of review:  deadline for the Main Review Cycle is Feburary 15.  We strongly recommend that internal candidates (those in the CCIB MS or other RUC MS program) apply for Early Decision. 

Early Decision (January 15 deadline): This option is only available for internal candidates (those in the CCIB MS or other RUC MS program). If you are eligible for this round of review, we strongly recommend you apply by this deadline. If you are a CCIB MS student applying for the PhD, you must apply in this round to get the CCIB MS priority “boost”. We will hold interviews in the second half of January.  You could receive a decision at the beginning of February.   

Main Review Cycle (February 15 deadline): This is the main application deadline. Video interviews will usually be held during the last week of February and first week of March.  The earliest you will receive a decision is the first week of March. 

If you have not heard back by the beginning of March, this means you were not selected for an interview but are still being considered for the MS. Unfortunately, we do not have a way to indicate this status in the automated application system, and we are not able to respond to every status request during this time.  You should have an update by April 1. 


What is the MS deadline and timeline?

Spring Semester: December 1. You should hear back within one month of submitting your application. 
Fall Semester: May 15. You should hear back within six weeks of submitting your application, but applications submitted during February and March may take longer due to the simultaneous PhD review process.  If you have not heard back within eight weeks of submitting your application, please reach out. 

I’ve got a background in one STEM field but haven’t had much experience in these other STEM fields – will I be able to follow this program?

Going into an interdisciplinary program after a more traditional undergraduate program can be intimidating,  but we use an approach to interdisciplinary training that embraces the range of backgrounds of our students. The Essentials Courses are a key part of this approach, as are the students themselves!

Some of our students come in with very strong math skills but haven’t been in a biology class since high school, others have spent a lot of time in a biology laboratory but have never done any computer programming and/or haven’t had math since their first year of college, some already come in with a mix of skills. No student comes in with “everything covered”, but all students have something to offer – and so we encourage and rely on students from complementary backgrounds to assist and coach each other.

Concerns about preparation are common for incoming students, but they widely report those concerns being alleviated within the first semester.  Several of our current students had the program recommended to them by alumni!  

I have a background in the social sciences but am interested in this program. Could I get in? (And could I succeed?)
We encourage you to apply to our MS program. Entering a STEM graduate program like CCIB without having an undergraduate STEM degree is challenging, but our program is focused on bringing students up to speed across disciplines, and we have had many students from the social sciences succeed.  And any student that does well in the CCIB MS is very competitive for our PhD!

I am primarily interested in using experimental approaches. Does it make sense for me to apply to this program?

Yes – definitely! About half of our students do entirely experimental research.  Although CIB students do not all do computational research, they all learn how to effectively collaborate and communicate with computational researchers, including fellow students, computational PIs, or seminar speakers.  This is a skill that only gets more important each year!  

What research groups are in CCIB?
How do students get matched with an advisor? Do I need to get accepted into a research group before applying?
You do not need to have a research advisor until the end of your first semester, and CCIB has many activities to help you make this choice, including prospective visit day, orientation, and a semester-long rotation through three labs.  So you do not need to contact faculty before applying, but serious inquiries never hurt and can potentially benefit your application, because faculty can provide input to the admissions committee. To make it clear that your inquiry is serious, read about the faculty members’ research before writing to them, be selective about which ones you reach out to, and let them know what you sincerely find particularly exciting.   
How are students funded?

Funding depends upon graduate program.  

MS:  Domestic MS students are eligible for financial aid, and students who are not residents of New Jersey are eligible for a scholarship to cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. International students are eligible for the International Chancellor’s Graduate Scholarship. 

It is also common for MS students to get paid an hourly wage as a part-time assistant in a research lab, but this is dependent upon the lab head (the PIs) funding and approval. 

PhD: Most PhD students are provided funding which covers their tuition, fees (including health insurance), and a stipend. In exchange, the student is expected to perform duties as either a Teaching Assistant (TA) or a Graduate research assistant (GA).  A typical progression is for students to TA their first two years and then get paid as a GA in their advisor’s lab for the rest of their PhD.  This is not how it works for everyone, though: sometimes more advanced students TA and sometimes more junior students will be GAs.   

Sometimes students choose to self-fund a PhD.  In this case, tuition and fees are similar to those for MS students. 

More on funding through the Graduate School is available here

Should I apply to the MS or PhD program?

There are many differences between these two graduate programs. Some of the most important:

Time: The MS degree usually takes about 2 years, while the PhD degree usually takes between 4 to 6 years.  

Funding: PhD students are usually funded by an institution invested in their research, while an MS degree is funded more similarly to an undergraduate degree.  

For this reason, gaining admittance into the PhD means also gaining access to funding.  Sometimes we have students who we think could do well in the PhD program but who we can’t fund in the year they originally apply. In those cases, the student has the option to a) commit to self-funding a PhD, or b) enroll in the MS Plan A, where they can work on applying for fellowships and doing so well in their research that they become a priority for funding in the subsequent years.  This is frequently a good option for students who might not look spectacular “on paper”  but who have something special to offer the program. 

Research expectations are substantially higher for a PhD. The first two years of a PhD are pretty similar to the MS Plan A program, but the PhD student spends several additional years devoted entirely to making a significant research contribution.  

Application Process, Deadline and Response time: Any students not admitted to the PhD program are automatically considered for the MS program. However, if you apply to the MS directly, the application (and review) process is somewhat less extensive, and we are able to give a much faster response to your application (usually within a month.) Furthermore, applications to the PhD are considered once a year, while MS applications are considered on a rolling basis. 

Subsequent Employment: There are many jobs you can do well with either a PhD or an MS, but a few jobs that absolutely require a PhD.  A PhD is a stage along a certain type of scientific research or higher education track that you can’t skip over or go without.  If you are invested in progressing down those particular research tracks, you will need a PhD. 

If you aren’t invested in a career devoted to independent research, a PhD might still be a good choice for you, because it can help in other career tracks.  On the other hand, it might not make sense for you. 

This is a general question (not one specific to the CIB) and has been written about frequently. One good and very recent article is  [Should you go to grad school? | Science | AAAS] – but like many articles, this one does not mention how useful a reasonably-priced MS degree can be if you are undecided. The MS allows you to simultaneously improve your employment prospects AND test whether a PhD graduate program is a good fit, without committing too many years of study. 

Who you will be when you are done:

The simplest answer is that you will be several years older when you finish a PhD than you would have been if you’d just finished an MS. 

The most meaningful answer is that your brain will be fundamentally different by completing a PhD in a scientific field. You will leave with a specific type of intellectual discipline that is hard to get any other way.   This will affect how you approach problems and analyze the world around you for the rest of your life.      

Do I need to take the GRE?

PHD: We do require the GRE General Test for the PhD.  (The ETS does administer an at-home GRE General Test during the current pandemic.)  A GRE subject test will strengthen your application but is not required. 

MS: The GRE General Test is not required for the MS, but a strong GRE quantitative score will greatly strengthen your application for the MS and GREs are required for certain scholarships.  


Are there minimum GRE/TOEFL/GPA requirements?

We do not have hard cutoffs for a GRE or GPA, because we consider each student individually. We would not want to miss a promising scientist who fell just below the cutoff for some reason!  A low GRE score or GPA can be mitigated by other significant strengths.  

The minimum TOEFL for enrolling is 70, but getting funding for a PhD through a TA line usually requires higher English proficiency than the minimum. You will have a chance to demonstrate English proficiency during your interview.  


What is the acceptance rate?

Our program is young and we have been getting more selective over time, as the number of strong applicants increases. In 2020, our acceptance rate for the PhD was 8%, and for the MS it was 35%. Many students who are not accepted with funding into the PhD are offered admission into the MS program.  If you are an excellent MS student, it is likely you will be at the top of the PhD funding list two years later! 

I have more specific questions about the way the program works. Where can I find information?
Please check out the current Graduate Student Handbook.
Where do students live?

There is on-campus housing available for graduate students.  Students also live in nearby Camden apartment buildings like The Victor, just across the Delaware River in Philadelphia, elsewhere in Southern New Jersey (like Haddonfield, Cherry Hill, Collingswood), or somewhere else in New Jersey. 


Is Camden safe?

Yes, it is safe!  The old reputation of Camden is just that – old.  In 2016, President Obama and officials from other cities (including Philadelphia) visited Camden to learn about the innovative policing methods that have transformed public safety in Camden.   The Rutgers-Camden campus is bounded by the Delaware Waterfront and Ben Franklin Bridge, and has its own police force, which kept the campus safe and peaceful even prior to the revitalization of Camden. 

Nationally, revitalized cities are growing and have become lively, exciting, and fun places to live and work! 



Still have questions?

Check out our Program Handbook!